Monday, December 1, 2008

Lemon Olive Oil, Pistachios and Chocolate Covered Cherries

Elizabeth Zelvin’s debut mystery, Death Will Get You Sober, was published by St. Martin’s in 2008. The sequel, Death Will Help You Leave Him, will be out in late 2009 or early 2010. Two related short stories won an Agatha nomination and an honorable mention in the Crimespace First Annual Short Story Contest. Liz’s author website is She blogs on Poe’s Deadly Daughters.

Krista’s call for a guest blog on appropriate gifts for domestic divas immediately brought to mind the goodie basket I’m planning to give my son and his wife for our family’s ecumenical Christmas/Chanukah. While my daughter-in-law worked as a computer programmer before my granddaughters were born and will probably go back to it, she definitely has the diva gene. Example? The table centerpieces for my younger granddaughter’s christening party at a country club near where they live looked like two-tiered white wedding cakes trimmed with blue ribbon. On closer inspection, they turned out to be made of Pampers—and the many guests with infants and not yet potty trained toddlers got to take them home. Yep, she made them herself. I rest my case.

I thought it would be nice to fill a basket with luxury gifts that I enjoy myself and that I know they’ll like. One big success last year was Meyer lemon olive oil—not just flavored oil but with Meyer lemons (smaller, sweeter, and more refined than regular lemons) and high-grade olives crushed together. They reported back enthusiastically that they loved it and used it on everything. My favorite pairing is the Meyer lemon olive oil tossed sparingly with fresh pumpkin pasta and fresh grated parmesan. It’s also great with balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing on fresh greens, tomato, and avocado with a little sea salt. I originally found it at a farmer’s market in Manhattan, and later bought more from the maker, a small business on Long Island. I couldn’t reach them by phone or email this year and suspect they’ve gone out of business. So I went online and found several sources. My three bottles just arrived from Katz and Company in Napa, California. You don’t think I’d give some to the kids without getting some for myself, do you? (Krista’s Note: Katz and Company appears to be sold out but you can try or or

Since I started traveling to promote my mysteries, I have become known in the family as someone with perfect sales resistance—until I’m in the airport headed for home. Then I absolutely have to get that moose in Minneapolis or whatever the local specialty is. The kids loved chocolate covered cherries from Seattle. They come in mixed, bing, or Rainier cherries, milk, dark, or white chocolate, and red or pink candy coating or a dusting of cocoa. I got mine from Chukar, the brand they carry at the Seattle airport. Why mess with success?

The Vermont Country Store carries a true luxury item: shelled pistachios from Arizona, in one-pound bags or two-pound plastic tubs that make a great storage container when the nuts are gone. Pistachios are my favorite nut, but no diva wants red-stained fingertips or broken nails. Now she can indulge without any threat to her manicure.
The Meduri catalog introduced me to superb dried fruits that, like Italian gelato, really taste like the fresh fruit itself. I’m giving the kids a tin of the Sweetglow apricots—and one for me, of course. I may even put the pink grapefruit slices, which I haven’t tried yet and which cost the earth, on the wish list I give my husband.

I plan to include two mugs decorated with my best pictures of the grandchildren. Not sure what else I’ll add, but it’s already a present I’d love to get myself. And now I’m looking for the perfect basket.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

A last-minute addition: Eva Gates huckleberry preserves from Bigfork, Montana, fellow Guppy Leslie Budewitz's home town. I gave up on the basket, bought a glitzy holiday shopping bag, and made a nice nest of red tissue paper. Oh, and I tucked a copy of Krista's book in the top. :)

Krista said...

Thanks for adding The Diva Runs Out of Thyme to your gift bag! Books make terrific gifts.


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